At the end of the Olympic Games on Sunday, China kept its bet: the competition ran without major incidents despite a glaring lack of popular fervor.
A pinch of Covid, a pinch of politics, a thin layer of snow, a small audience but also a large dose of Valieva and many sports feats, such as Quentin Fillon Maillet and Eileen Gu: on Sunday 20 February the Beijing Olympics ended, with the usual cocktail.
At the Beijing National Stadium, International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach declared the 2022 Winter Olympics “closed”.
The next match of the Winter Olympics will take place in Italy, together with Milan and Cortina d’Ampezzo, in 2026, while the Olympic flame will light up next time for the 2024 Summer Olympics in Paris.
In Beijing, the closing ceremony began, as planned, at 20:00 (13:00 French time), bringing the curtain down on this very special fortnight, under the regime of a very rigid health bubble that has seriously ruined the Olympic celebration. .
Equally deplorable but more common in Olympic history, doping has also arrived in Beijing with a name: Kamila Valieva.
At 15, the Russian figure skater finds herself at the center of a sensational story that will continue well beyond the Chinese meeting.
>> To read: Anorexia, obligation and doping: behind the skater Kamila Valieva, the shadow of Eteri Tutberidze
Having arrived as the big favorite in the individual event, thanks in particular to her quadruple jumps, Valieva made her debut by winning the team event, ahead of the Americans and Japan, on 7 February. Destiny! The next day she was notified of a positive doping control for a test carried out on December 25th.
With appeals and procedures, Valieva, the IOC and the World Anti-Doping Agency are trying to unravel the scam.
On the eve of the individual event, the skater can finally participate. But the IOC warns that he will take the results as provisional and will not award medals until the case is resolved, which could take months. Eventually, after dominating the short program, she literally collapsed into freestyle and ended up … at the foot of the podium, exhausted from pressure.
Quickly returning home, the teenager must now recover and wait, just like the Americans, furious at not having received the medal, and the Japanese.
Biathlon in excellent shape
Medals, someone drank it. Quentin Fillon Maillet amassed five, a feat no Frenchman had ever accomplished during the Winter Olympics themselves.
The Jura leaves these Olympics with two titles (individual and pursuit) and three silver medals (mixed relay and men, sprint), more than any other athlete at these Olympics, on a par with his great Norwegian rival Johannes Boe, also he Norwegian biathlete Mars Olsbu Roeiseland and Russian cross-country skier Alexander Bolshunov.
“QFM” will therefore have been the main supplier of French medals. With its five podiums, plus the title of Justine Braisaz-Bouchet in the mass start and the silver of Anaïs Chevalier-Bouchet in the individual, biathlon is even worth half of the fourteen medals in the French field.
After alpine skiers’ failure in the quarter-finals during Sunday’s team event, the French tally stopped at one unit of the 2018 Olympics record.
The Blues, however, can console themselves with many gold medals, since to those of Fillon Maillet and Braisaz-Bouchet, are added Clément Noël in the slalom and the duo Gabriella Papadakis and Guillaume Cizeron in the ice dance.
Unfortunately, these exploits might not be as festive as they deserved.
A discreet audience
The audience invited by the officials was present – unlike last summer in Tokyo – but, with fewer than 100,000 spectators announced by the organizers – compared to 1 million four years ago in Pyeongchang – spread over thirteen sites and 109 events, these Olympic Games were gloomy and often silent.
The health bubble has in fact ruined much of the pleasure, with wearing the mandatory mask, the daily tests and above all the travel restrictions, the impossibility for athletes to stay a few days once the tests are over to go and encourage their compatriots. , to escape this bubble to meet the local population …
But, in the end, the organizers’ zero Covid policy worked. Certainly, some athletes, affected by Covid-19, have had to give up their Olympic dream. But, considering the more than 60,000 daily tests, or more than 1.8 million in total, no clustering or slaughter has occurred, as the Olympic population has had no more than three positive cases in the past ten days. And even those placed in solitary confinement did not seem to have suffered, like the Norwegian Johannes Boe, quadruple Olympic biathlon champion.
The fortnight also began with the controversy over human rights or the lack of natural snow, made with snow cannons.
Games without scandal
The debate on human rights did not come from the athletes, nor from countries like the United States that decided a diplomatic boycott, nor from organizations opposed to the holding of these Olympics in China, accused of violating human rights in the Xinjiang region against the Uyghur minority.
>> Beijing 2022: Olympic Games under close digital surveillance
To the few questions posed on the subject, the spokesperson of the Organizing Committee, Yan Jiarong, spoke of “lies”, before being called to order by the IOC, which does not want to mix sports and politics, and the organizers brought out the Uighurs. Country skier Dinigeer Yilamujiang pulled out his hat to light the Olympic cauldron during the February 4 opening ceremony.
Heaven also put an end to the snow controversy as, after a week of lamenting the dry, parched, white-free landscapes of the mountain resorts of Zhangjiakou and Yanqing, the Holy Snow finally fell in the middle of the Olympics, bleaching the backgrounds. .
Now it’s up to the next Olympics with the return to Europe, after Rio, Pyeongchang, Tokyo and Beijing.
In four years, the next winter edition will be in Italy with a unique combination Milan / Cortina, which will recover the Olympic flag at the end of the evening from the hands of the IOC president, Thomas Bach, shortly before the traditional extinction of the Olympic flame.
And in two years it will be in Paris that it will shine! The next Olympic match in 2024 will take place in the French capital, where organizers promise festive Summer Olympics.
The Olympic world needs it.